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Visions of China CNN TIME Asiaweek Fortune

SEPTEMBER 27, 1999 VOL. 154 NO. 12

Greg Girard/Contact Press Images for TIME
Dalian has managed to stay clean even while recording rapid growth.
DALIAN: Model Metropolis, 1993
City of the Future

Qu Rengui offers Dalian the ultimate compliment: "It feels like being abroad!" In a country where breakneck development has generally meant polluted skies, congested streets and decaying infrastructure, this port city in China's northeast is doing something right--and becoming a model for China's 21st-century development. Gushes Qu, a visitor from Chongqing, the gray industrial metropolis on the Yangtze River: "Dalian is so clean you need a shoe shine only once a month."

China's Amazing Half Century
Navigate through the People's Republic of China and discover the 50 places where history was made

China's Wild Ride
The early years of Mao's new republic were exhilarating and disastrous. Deng Xiaoping brought the country back from the brink

Essay: Happy Birthday to Me!
A Beijing writer recalls what he was doing when the People's Republic celebrated some earlier birthdays

50 years of the People's Republic
presented by CNN, TIME, Asiaweek and Fortune

Quest for Dignity
The success of the Communist revolution climaxed a century-long drive by the Chinese to reclaim their historical greatness

If Dalian is an exemplar, it has a model leader: 50-year-old Bo Xilai, who became mayor of this city of 5.4 million in 1993. With solid political pedigree--he's the son of Long March veteran Bo Yibo--and oodles of charisma, Bo seems genuinely popular. Almost alone among big-city bosses, he has sought to reconcile rapid economic growth with environmental protection. From 1993 to 1997, the GDP of Dalian grew an average 15% a year. Yet the streets are tidy, and the air is clean.

At the downtown Zhongshan Plaza, turn-of-the-century colonial-style buildings blend smoothly with new marble-and-glass skyscrapers. City streets are lined with ginkgo trees, and roadway intersections are adorned with flower beds and sculptures. China's environmental protection agency cites Dalian as one of China's cleanest cities; it's now exempt from annual nationwide pollution inspections.

Bo's ideas derive in part from trips abroad. While in Japan he learned that elevating sidewalks can protect trees. In Europe he got the idea of putting non-polluting trams back in service. In the U.S. and Britain, he became inspired to tear down walls around state buildings to make room for parks and promenades. "The idea is to design the city so that one steps into a garden as soon as one steps out of the house." Bo often intervenes when anyone violates environmental standards. "I call up and demand action, even if I have to wake someone," says Bo. "People carry out orders if they come from the mayor."

YALU RIVER: Taking on the Americans
FUSHUN: China Invents the Perfect Soldier
SHENYANG: Labor Gets Angry

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